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01 Abe Lincoln
The record went into stores
on April 27. This is the Backsliders' second full-length release with Mammoth
The record, produces primarily by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (save "Abe Lincoln" which was produced by Don Dixon),
presents eleven tracks featuring the live-show favorites "Abe Lincoln" and "Forever Came Today." The record also
features some excellent CD-ROM content showcasing live footage as well as the video for "My Baby's Gone."
Mammoth has posted a Backsliders
MP3 of "Abe Lincoln" for a VERY limited on their website (www.mammoth.com)
for downloading: http://audio2.catalogue.com/mammoth/mp3/abe_lincoln.mp3
When he's not on the road, Chip Robinson lives in the back comer of the All-Star Trailer Park outside Raleigh, North Carolina. On race day, you can hear the whine of stock car: from Wake Motor Speedway across the county road. Chip': tmiler is the one with a big boat in the driveway.
It's big on the inside, plenty of room for record: and guitars. The kitchen serves strong black coffee. A road case, perhaps for a key board, serves as a coffee table. The stereo amplifier hisses in the background, unaccustomed to silence.
Robinson grew up bouncing back and forth between Greensboro, North Carolina and Clarksville, Virginia. He got his first guitar when he was eight and breezed through a series of teachers reluctant to teach him rock and roll songs straight out. He learned enough to be dangerous and started haphazardly writing songs at 13. He sang in a junior high cover band and did versions of Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "American Woman" that still make him blush.
"Then one of the kids had an AlIman Brothers breakthrough on the guitar, and we went off in that direction for awhile." It was in Greensboro, while in high school, that Robinson began keeping company with the Cason brothers, Terry and Gene. "We would get together in Jerry Hill's tobacco barn. We'd carry on, butchering bluegrass all night long. Gene used to tune his cheap electric guitar to a banjo tuning. We had a lot of fun, just playing, goofing off."
After high school, Robinson served in the Navy for six years, where he played punk rock in ship-board bands, and started performing his own songs in sundry bars and cantinas around the world. "I played at eight o'clock in the morning in a bar in Tijuana and one late at night in the Philippines to five people. Anywhere I could. Everywhere."
Robinson returned to North Carolina after the service and committed himself to life as a singer/song writer. He kicked around, performing solo in honky-tonks and at open mic nights for years. He survived on odd-jobs and his Navy-learned electronics skills.
1991, Robinson teamed up with Steve Howell to form The Backslider:. Howell
tempered Robinson's rough-neck edges with a more traditional country musicianship.
They added bassist Danny Kurtz, drummer Jeff Dennis and local guitar great,
Brad Rice. The result was a raucous hybrid of catchy,
Mammoth, The Backsliders released From Ralcigh, NC, a six song live introduction
recorded at the Brewery, a hometown haunt with beer-stained plywood floors
and neon sigus. Later that year, the full-length debut Throwin' Rocks at
the Moon, produced by Dwight Yoakain's guitaristiproducer Pete
playing successful shows from one coast to the other with everyone from Junior Brown and Jason and the Scorchers to Widespread Panic and Whiskeytown. Their video for "My Baby's Gone" soon went into rotation at CMT, further establishing them as a goodtime band who threw down hard.
of The Backslider: saw an energetic and riveting live band that had a great
diversity of material -the more rocking numbers coming from Chip and the
country-shuffle ballads eminating from Steve. Backstage, however, this
diversity was tearing the band apart. Van rides were quiet, spirits were
was a tough time. But I had this sense of relief, too. I knew this is what
I want to do.
Don Dixon (REM, Smithereens) came in to add his touches to a few of the harder rocking tracks and Robinson began to rebuild the band. Brad Rice returned to the fold to finish the record. The final product yielded what Chip had always wanted-an organic, harder-rocking album of more mature, whole-hearted songs. The sound was still big and bluesy, and the songs were still about living badly and love gone wrong, but the mood was more crafted and adult.
"A lot of people really liked that live record. They said that (Tkrowin' Rocka at the Moon) was a little careful for their tastes. This new record came out a little more raw sounding. I think it's better that way."
The musical terrain on Southern Lines is a gothic southern landscape filled with lonely hearts, criss-crossed with railroad tracks tempting escape. Robinson adds some intimate, lonely numbers, and Howell's country-pop offerings are still present. Southern Lines is an honest union, full of conflict and a sense of loss, ever hopeful for redemption.
It's a difficult record to pigeonhole. There's material that reminds one of Nebraska-era Springsteen, there are Neil Young moments and there's Jerry Jeff Walker and Gram Parsons oozing out of every note. Peter Holsapple (db'sIREM) provides an eerie accordion chill to the album's final track, Tom Brumley (Buck Owens and the Buckaroos) adds a stamp of pedal steel authenticity on "The Lonely One" and Joe Terry (The SkeletonsiDave Alvin) fills out the sound on the bulk of the songs on Hammond B-3 and piano.
Robinson's songs could be about you. They spark recollections and regrets and proclaim a faith that ultimately outlasts everything.
"I take things I overhear, things I see, things I read. Then sometimes it comes all at once, or I work hard on it for a long time. It just depends."
"I got the first line for (first single) "Abe Lincoln" from a friend of mine. He said it about this guy and it was funny and dead on. It was strange but true, so I kept that. Then I found the image of the bloodstain, something that takes a long time to fade. Eventually you get a song.
"'Angelita' is a fever dream based on a lot of composites, different people, ideas, things I saw when I was staving in New YorL There's lots of trains in that one. Windows rattling. I use an old North Carolina ghost story about the stamping ground tree where the Devil does his nightly dance."
"'Two Candles' was written after an early morning phone call from a friend trying to mend fences with his cx. He was trying so hard and it just wasn't working ouL He told me about some stuff that went on one particular night, and I wrote that song the next day."
"There is a conflict in these songs. I mean life is beautiful, but it's hard on everybody too."
Robinson looks like one of his rank drifters casting glances~for the nearest set of railroad tracks when he talks about the revamped Backsliders. In addition to Rice on guitar, Terry Anderson is playing drums, Roger Gupton joins in on bass with Rob Farris on keyboards. Discussing the future makes Robinson lustful and feisty.
"I can't wait to get out on the road with this stuff" says Robinson, killing his coffee. "Right after Steve left the band, we played a big show in Atlanta. It turned out to be great and it was on with the show! We're planning on touring a lot for this record, and I'm glad. I need to play."
Robinson looks out the window at the rolling grey clouds. The pine tops sway as a warm wind blows through the Trailer Park. The neighbors are coming home and lights twinkle up and down Monk Lane.
The phone rings. It's Robinson's girlfriend calling to say her truck is fixed. She'll be over soon too see him. Robinson lights up at the news.
Things are looking up.